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Managing Passwords

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Here is the second story in my series on getting digital things organized... although, I have been working on this project for the past year. That means, this series is not in chronological order. Oh, well! So here goes the evolution of my passwords. If you're a wannabe hacker trying to crack open my accounts, don't waste your time here. No passwords are revealed in the making of this story. ;)

My Naive Approach

I have hundreds of online accounts. Not intentionally, sometimes you just need to create an account to make a post, play a game, or share some content. Things like that. So they quickly accumulate. I'm sure many people have hundreds of accounts, or maybe even much more, without realizing it. I used to do the one worst thing possible - having the same password for everything. If this is you, please change your passwords! RIGHT NOW! I was lucky and never got hacked, but consider this. If passwords got leaked from some stupid flash game I played back in the 2010s, someone would guess that for my email password and boom, I'm done for. If someone gets your email password, even if you don't have the same password for everything, a hacker can easily do a "forgot password" and gain access to your other accounts.

Around the time I got my first laptop, I did a minor upgrade to my password management. I would have a "key" password plus something at the end (usually the website name, or something like that.) So at least, my passwords weren't the same, but again, if someone got ahold of my "key", then it would still be pretty easy for them to break into my other accounts. Around this time, I started saving my passwords in plain text format on my computer as well. Not a great idea!

Cyber Security

This went on for a long time. I learned how to write basic code (literally, Visual Basic) back in the 2010s. I remember writing an extremely simple password manager (rotate 13) that I never ended up using.

Much later, in college, I cracked down more on my password security. I changed some passwords of my more sensitive accounts and started saving passwords in my own matrix encoding program. Things are starting to look better here, but there are still possibly a hundred accounts at this point that are still using my old scheme of my "key" plus extra.

Finally, just a few years ago, I set up a free account with Bitwarden, an enterprise-grade password manager. It can generate secure passwords, encrypts passwords with the latest encryption technology, and allows you to access your passwords cross-platform. I spent more time than I'm willing to admit, transferring all my accounts over to Bitwarden, and updating each one with a very long, secure password. In fact, I am working on another cleanup project that will probably make its way into organization story #3, with the help from Bitwarden data exports. Stay tuned!

Closing Statements

I am not affiliated nor endorsing Bitwarden - it was simply just the password manager I ended up using. There are plenty on the market for free with paid extra features. Just explore what you like, and please do not use the same password for everything!